Teaching new curricula (3 of them this semester!) is kicking my butt, and writing on the blog has been super hard.
But, I want to say, hello. I’m alive! I’m here!
A student wrote me a very sweet email, and after I wrote my response, I thought it would make a good update on how I’m doing. I’m pasting it here and adding one or two things.
I am good! Life is crazy. But not in a bad way. In a full way, and in a way that means I make lots of mistakes. I miss being an expert, being competent, knowing what the next day is going to look like in my class. This has been so humbling, but in a good way. I’m starting over, and it’s hard, but you start to realize what really matters or what you were missing in your old life.
The hard part has been writing. For a variety of reasons, I’m taking a break. One, I can’t take any more rejection. I know I looked like I was handling it all so well, but the rejections really built up and I couldn’t do it any more. Creative fields are so hard because there is 99% rejection in your responses. I love being creative, but I lost connection with the creative part and was only focusing on the response I was getting.
Someone told me I had to write for myself, not for publication. I only realize now that I wasn’t doing that. I am trying to reconnect with me, and why I want to write. Do I even want to write? I’m trying to let go of it and see if it comes back. Because I don’t know if I’m glad about how many hours I’ve given to rejection. I don’t regret the writing, but the time I spent querying and then getting rejected so quickly, so dismissively. If that’s what it takes, maybe that’s not what it’s about for me.
Ugh, I feel like I’m 22 again, trying to figure out what to do with myself. If only you got the answer and then were done. I wish!
I’ve been thinking about writing a lot. But when I find my mind wandering into thinking about agents and querying and publishing, I stop myself. I have to somehow write and separate it from publication. I probably need to be less intense. I can hear you laughing. “Ya think?” I can hear you saying.
I guess what I’m trying to figure out is, what does it look like, being a teacher who writes on the side?
One thing I’ve been doing is exercising. Between working and writing back in the US, I was not active, I didn’t exercise, and it was getting to an unhealthy level. Our school here had a 3K Turkey Trot, and after that, I kept running. I did a 5K in November and I have a 10K on February 3. Running is easy, cheap, and a good workout for the time it takes. I’m super slow and not awesome at it, but I’m enjoying doing it. A writer I follow on Twitter said to remember that we are computers wrapped in meat and we need to keep the meat healthy to make the computer run. I’m remembering that.
Brazil has been really good, though. We are doing a unit on cultural norms and taboos with 7th graders and I have so much personal connection. By seeing the norms and taboos here vs Nashville and Harpeth Hall is so illuminating. I’m questioning things. It’s not like Brazil is perfect, or Nashville is perfect. But I can see the differences and the effects on people. It’s also helpful for me to look at myself.
Teaching middle school has been awesome. And also challenging, but in a way I like. I have amazing colleagues who are smart and passionate and funny.
The kids are good. It’s been a rough 6 months, but I only realized that now looking back. I can see now that some things the kids were doing were because of the move, even though I didn’t see it at the time. But, to be fair, it’s also hard to parent 3 kids, so this may have happened no matter where we lived.
For sure, though, I am so happy to have distance from US politics and news right now. Every country has its share of bad news, but this break feels nice. I don’t long to be back. I’m not homesick.
Over the break my dad was asking me questions that all amounted to: Did you do the right thing, moving? The answer is yes. It took 6 months, but this feels more and more like home. And I know that this was a good decision.